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Field-based spectral reflectance measurements of seasonal snow cover in the Indian Himalaya

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In the present study, spectroradiometer (350-2500 nm) experiments are carried out in the field to understand the influence of snow grain size, contamination, moisture, ageing, snow depth, slope / aspect on spectral reflectance and to determine the sensitive wavelengths for mapping of snow and estimation of snow characteristics using satellite data. The observations suggest that, due to ageing and grain-size variation, the maximum variations in reflectance are observed in the near-infrared region, i.e. around 1040-1050 nm. For varying contamination and snow depth, the maximum variations are observed in the visible region, i.e. around 470 and 590 nm, respectively. For the moisture changes, the maximum variations are observed around 980 and 1160 nm. Based on the spectral signatures of seasonal snow, the normalized difference snow index (NDSI) is studied, and snow indexes, such as grain and contamination indexes, are proposed. The study also suggests that the NDSI increases with ageing, grain size and moisture content. The NDSI values remain constant with variations in slope and aspect. Attempts are made to estimate seasonal snow characteristics using multispectral Advanced Wide Field Sensor (AWiFS) Indian Remote Sensing (IRS-P6) and Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) Terra satellite data and validated with snow-meteorological observatory data of the study area.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Snow and Avalanche Study Establishment, Chandigarh, India 2: Space Applications Centre, Ahmedabad, India 3: HNB Garhwal University, Srinagar Garhwal, India

Publication date: 2010-03-01

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